I forgot to tell you all – I got something really cool a few weeks ago. I think I mentioned that I had been using my friend Shari’s saddle for trail riding. It is just the nicest, most comfortable saddle you could ask for, but I couldn’t keep using hers because she kind of wanted to use it too. So I thought I’d check on eBay for Eli Miller saddles, and I found a few. One of them just happened to be near where we live, so that’s the one I went for, and I got it!
If you’ve never heard of Eli Miller saddles, you are missing out. Eli Miller is an Amish leather crafter who made saddles and other tack until he retired and his nephew Henry took over the business, using the same techniques and quality craftsmanship and materials as Eli – they’re now sold under the Henry Miller name. These saddles are made on a solid wood tree with a coating of fiberglass and a material called “Rhino” that helps make the tree more durable. They are covered in buttery soft leather and the seat is a “suspended” seat (it doesn’t rest directly on the tree) with a gel cushion. Mine is just heavenly to ride – I have ridden for hours with no pain or discomfort caused by the saddle. It is also really beautiful – rich chestnut leather with a darker seat, and simple, elegant tooling along the edges. There are also other matching tack pieces – bridles, breast collars, etc. (Gee, I sure hope I get something like that for Christmas. ;))
After doing some internet research, I believe my saddle is a “Buena Vista” (model #104). While it wasn’t as inexpensive as my World’s Longest Yard Sale saddle at $60, I still got a really good deal. The saddle retails for about $800 and I got it for $400, and the seller delivered it to me. (She was very, very nice, and we may go trail riding together sometime. She also knows my friend Shari – small world!)
So if you’re in the market for a really good saddle you intend to keep for a while, I highly recommend an Eli Miller/Henry Miller. I’ve seen them in our local tack shops and several online stores. And don’t forget eBay!